Every year the World Meteorological Day (WMD) is celebrated to commemorate the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which was established on the 23rd of March 1950. It is celebrated to highlight and create awareness of people’s role in protecting the Earth’s atmosphere. Each year comes with a unique and significant theme to highlight the current and high impact atmospheric process that threatens life and property.
This year’s theme for the World Meteorological Day – dubbed “Early Warning and Early Action” could not have been coined better than now as climate variability and climate change are increasing high impact weather (HIW) events such as floods, droughts, high temperature rise, landslides, etc mostly influenced by human activities thereby affecting lives, properties and socio-economic development. According to WMO, weather, climate and water extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world as a result of climate change and Ghana is not an exception. Countries, Communities, and Ecosystems are exposed more than ever before to multiple related hazards, which are themselves evolving as a result of population growth, urbanization, and environmental degradation.
There is a gradual change in rainfall pattern and weather-related variables which have affected various sectors of the economy directly such as the Agricultural sector which is rainfed and its value chain. “Forecasts of what the weather will BE are no longer enough. Impact-based forecasts (IBF) that inform the public of what the weather will DO are vital to save lives and livelihoods. Yet one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems” as stated by WMO. Therefore, there is the need to intensify Impact-based forecasts.
This year, the WMO is emphasizing the need for early warning and early action, as well as Impact-based forecasts. In addressing this in Ghana, Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) African Science for Weather Information and Forecasting Techniques (African-SWIFT) project have helped build capacity for forecasters on IBF and is being implemented by GMet for early warning and informed decision making. The project has also helped in the provision of nowcast satellite application facility (NWCSAF) to support the Agency’s nowcasting (0 – 6 hours) and short-range forecast including warnings of a high impact weather events for sectors such aviation, disaster, marine etc.
The Agency has also undertaken a research which was highlighted by the WMO high impact weather Citizen Science project on how GMet is using its “Let’s Talk Weather in Ghana” (accessed details from WhatsApp platforms to address dissemination gap hence improving timely communication of warnings and weather information to users as well as monitor user feedback. To be able to ensure that the implementation of the IBF is well accessed and used by all for mitigating the impact of climate change especially the grass-root communities, there is the need for effective coordination between various agencies and institutions together with private partners within the Global weather
Enterprise as supported by National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS) and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). GMet in collaboration with GIZ and Allianz have carried out the SAGABI project on “Developing Risk Management Approaches for Climate and Health Risks” and developed “My flood Risk Accra” app for flood early warning system which is being piloted within Greater Accra Metropolitan Assembly (GAMA). This is to aid preparedness, response and recovery of High Impact Weather which reflects this year’s WMD theme.
In addition, GMet is in partnership with Hydrological Service Department (HSD), National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and Ministry of Housing to execute and implement a pilot project GARID (Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development) that is expected to tackle early warning system within the Greater Accra Assembly in its attempt to manage flood. Early warning is a major element of disaster risk reduction. It can prevent loss of life and reduce the economic and material impacts of hazardous events, thereby mitigating disasters.
Early warning systems need to actively involve the users and communities at risk (coproduction), facilitate public education and awareness of risks, disseminate messages and warnings efficiently and ensure that there is a constant state of preparedness and early action enabled. The impact-based multi-hazard early warning services translate hazard warnings into sector and location-specific impacts, and develops responses to mitigate those impacts in advance of hazards. Today, there are more communication tools at hand to do so via websites, mobile phone apps, SMS, radio, television, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. which GMet is leveraging on for weather information dissemination.
Currently, GMet issue seamless forecasts to stakeholders for early warning ranging from Nowcast, Daily, Sub-seasonal to Seasonal (e.g., weekly, dekadal) and Seasonal forecast. Early Warning may thus extend beyond short-range rainfall forecast and related pluvial flood tendencies, to include long-term projections of wet/dry spell conditions, soil moisture – rainfall behavior, and other land-atmosphere phenomena directly affecting agriculture,
health, and ecosystem sustainability. Seasonal forecast as issued by GMet for the Northern and Southern sector provides information on onset and cessation, dry spells, total rainfall amount with their terciles probabilities and advisories over the country. The 2022 seasonal forecast released for the southern part of the country on the 10th of March, forecasted a late to normal onset, mostly normal cessation, with significant probabilities of slightly longer dry spells expected within the season. Generally, normal rainfall is forecasted for most places within the southern sector with the exception to some areas in the south eastern parts of the country will experience below normal rainfall for both March-April-May (MAM) and April-May-June (AMJ) seasons.
In conclusion, the initiatives implemented by GMet premises on the theme for the 2022 WMD celebration “Early waring and Early action”, and this aims at disaster risk reduction to save lives and properties. Long Live Ghana, Long Live GMet.
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